Montreal’s Best New Vegan Restaurants

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Whether you’re vegan or not, there’s never been a better time to try out Montreal’s flourishing plant‑based dining scene.

Long has Montreal been known for its gut‑soothing greasy spoon bites: cheese curd‑loaded poutine or un bon steamé hot dog. But recently the city has been heeding a global trend away from meat to greens. There is a flurry of new vegan restaurants in Montreal, sprouting in neighbourhoods such as the Plateau‑Mont‑Royal and Little Italy.

But even though these restaurants cater to vegans and those who favour a plant‑based diet, they are attracting plenty of meat eaters, too. “We are far away from the boring salads that we used to see as the only vegan options in restaurants,” says Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre, owner and chef of Montreal vegan sushi restaurant Sushi Momo, located on Rue Saint‑Denis across from picturesque Square Saint‑Louis.

Shortly after moving to Montreal from Pénjamo, Mexico, Ventura Alatorre started working at a Japanese restaurant (and yes, he ate fish at the time). But after attending yoga classes in Montreal’s Old Port and learning the merits of a plant‑based diet, he was inspired to open a vegan sushi restaurant. At first, his idea was met with reservations: “It was against all the odds,” says Ventura Alatorre. “Everyone was telling me that I will only be serving cucumber and carrot rolls, and nobody will be interested. Or, ‘without fish it’s not sushi.’”

But thanks to inventive flavour‑packed rolls such as kamikaze inari – containing sweet inari tofu, tempura, avocado, Asian pear, cucumber, shallots, spicy shichimi togarashi and ginger emulsion – Sushi Momo was a hit. And alongside well‑established spots like Aux Vivres and ChuChai, it is inspiring a new wave of vegan restaurants in Montreal. “I love Montreal and I think the people who live here are always interested in trying and enjoying good food, vegan or not,” Ventura Alatorre says.

March 12, 2021
A plate of vegan tacos in dark tortillas from Casa Kaizen in Montreal
   Photo: Laura G. Diaz
  1. Casa Kaizen —

    Following the success of Sushi Momo, chef Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre teamed up with fellow Mexican chef Brizeira Pulido to pay homage to the food of their home country while incorporating a hint of the Japanese flavour that Ventura Alatorre has become known for. The result is Casa Kaizen, a vegan fusion spot that opened on Avenue des Pins E. east of Boulevard Saint‑Laurent in the summer of 2020. Its menu tilts Mexican – mole with mushroom “chicken” and oyster mushroom al pastor tacos – but there are also nods to Japanese cuisine (dumpling nachos and sake). Ventura Alatorre opened another restaurant during the pandemic (in November 2020), Nopalito, which is devoted to hearty vegan Mexican tortas, or sandwiches.

Platter of make-at-home options from Montreal's Tendresse: Happy Hour Kit and Spinach Spanakopita
   Photo: Allison Slattery, twofoodphotographers
  1. Tendresse —

    One of the best vegan restaurants in Montreal is this bistro with a chic yet satisfyingly retro interior that opened in the Gay Village in 2019. Tendresse has something for any time of day – coffee, cocktails, brunch, lunch and dinner – and its menu showcases an eclectic mix of foods, with international favourites like scramble tofu breakfast tacos, a risotto of grilled asparagus, maple carrots, chestnuts and truffle oil, and pad Thai with bok choy, red bell peppers and mushrooms. The bistro also offers make‑at‑home products via Les Weekendeurs, such as BBQ Jackfruit Burgers and Spinach Spanakopita. For lovers of Celine Dion and the Spice Girls (so, everybody), Tendresse puts on a boozy brunch and 1990s singalong on Sundays, but it’s currently on pause due to pandemic restrictions.

A plate of chilaquiles rojos from Le Mariachi
   Photo: Le Mariachi
  1. Le Mariachi —

    Fresh on the scene as of November 2020, this Southern California‑inspired street food restaurant in Little Italy from MasterChef Season 8 winner Dino Angelo Luciano and Sarah Tee (Bowhead Pub and Umami Ramen) doesn’t proclaim to be vegan – but it is. The offerings include soy chorizo tacos, oyster mushroom “calamari” and “drunk” burritos stuffed with black beans and sweet potato fries.

Two people sharing a platter of vegan sushi from Bloom Sushi in Montreal
   Photo: Bloom Sushi
  1. Bloom Sushi —

    Easily one of Old Montreal’s best vegan restaurants, Bloom is the swanky love child from the owners of nearby Montreal favourite LOV and Sushi Momo. Its creative vegan sushi rolls, which are beloved by fish lovers, feature ingredients like umeboshi (pickled plum), tomato pesto and saffron aioli. As an added plus, bottles of wine are available for takeout and delivery, as per Montreal’s Covid‑19 guidelines. While Bloom’s main location is in the Old Port, it also has small counters at LOV locations downtown and on the North Shore and South Shore.

A vegan shish taouk plate with salad and rice from Sham
   Photo: Sham
  1. Sham —

    Sham is a Syrian restaurant with vegan options in Montreal that’s named after Damascus (Sham or A’Sham is a colloquial Arabic term for Syria’s capital and the whole Levant region). The menu features all your favourite Middle Eastern foods – shawarma, kibbeh, shish taouk and barbecue kebab – but made with veggies, such as mushrooms instead of meat. Sham has two locations: one on Avenue du Mont‑Royal E. in the Plateau and the other on Avenue Mozart E. in Little Italy.

A vegan burger with plant-based cheese from Mimi & Jones in Montreal
   Photo: Katya Konioukhova
  1. Mimi & Jones —

    No type of restaurant is more ubiquitous to Quebec than the casse‑croûte, a greasy spoon diner serving burgers, fries and poutine. The Mile End’s Mimi & Jones arrived in 2019 to fill the vegan void. This retro vegan restaurant in Montreal is inspired by American‑style diners with thin‑cut fries, “cheeseburgers” made with plant‑based Chao cheese, tofu nuggets and milkshakes sans milk. For something a little fancier, there’s also ravioli stuffed with tofu‑almond ricotta topped with either pesto or rosé sauce.

A vegan stuffed crust pizza with Beyond Meat sausage from Verdi in Montreal
   Photo: Verdi Montreal
  1. Verdi —

    Vegan food can certainly be healthy, but it doesn’t have to be. Case in point, this meatless brunch and lunch spot in Montreal, located close to Marché Jean‑Talon in the leafy and diverse neighbourhood of Villeray. Verdi serves stuffed‑crust pizza topped with Beyond Meat sausage, fried “chick’n” waffles, pasta and subs. It also offers a mean brunch: bagel and faux lox, waffles and an “om’lette” du jour.

A falafel sandwich with seasoned potato wedges from Falafel St. Jacques
   Photo: Falafel St. Jacques
  1. Falafel St. Jacques —

    There’s no meat in falafel, making this beloved restaurant in Ville Saint‑Pierre a favourite with vegans. Run by a Jewish‑Muslim team, Falafel St. Jacques serves some of the best deep‑fried chickpea balls in the city, plus an assortment of salads (well beyond tabbouleh) such as a spicy fried eggplant salad or rosemary butternut squash and sweet potato salad, plus tasty desserts including halvah. They even take a noteworthy stab at a faux shish taouk made with shiitake mushrooms.